Yael Stone and Uzo Abduba both were overhwlemed to be cast in Orange Is The New Black, Netflix's comedy-drama set inside a women's prison. So much so that neither of them were initially sure what to do.
"I was supposed to do episodes, maybe a third, my only expectations were A, don’t get fired, and B, I hope I get to do that third episode," said Abuba, who plays a character known only by the nickname Crazy Eyes. "That was the end of my dream.”
When accompanied by a producer back to her dressing room at the end of shooting the second episode, "I didn’t think anything of it, I just thought she was going to say congratulations on your first TV job, thanks for joining us, have a nice life.. and then when she said she was going to get me back, I thought I was going to get to do the third episode."
Abuba has since become a series regular, as has Yael Stone, who plays a love-struck girl who takes her crush a little too far. Stone, who hails from Sydney, spent a long time mastering her Italian-Brooklyn accent.
"I remember sitting in a little room and making a lot of weird sounds and seeing what would lay down nicely in my mouth," said Stone. "I worry that because I’ve been in Australia I had a moment where I was like, I’ll never be able to do it again!"
Orange Is The New Black has been hailed for its cast of predominantly women, encompassing different ethnicities, classes, sexual orientations and sexual identities.
"It was hard to ignore that we were walking on to a pretty unusual set, said Stone. "You can’t miss the fact that there we are with a whole bunch of women, rather than a a token woman, a token representative. I thin we all felt it was an unlikely job for everyone."
"You kind of can’t believe it," Stone said. "I remember being here with [Aduba] at the beginning and Uza had never done any TV before. She’s was like, what do I do? And I went, I don’t know, I’m Australian!. Everyone felt like we’d snuck in. How could we possibly make a show with this many women behind the camera, in front of the camera, different sizes, different ages, different colours, different languages. It felt like, ‘is this real?'”
"That’s what’s exciting about shows like ours, and How To Get Away With Murder, and Scandal, and Empire," says Aduba, referencing other TV series to feature women of colour in lead roles. "To see a range of people who I see reflected back at me when I walk out my door, or go on the internet."
"Our world has gotten smaller. People are thirsty, like in a desert," said Aduba. "The TV landscape has been so arid in terms of seeing a range of things being offered to us; whether it’s race, gender, sex, sexual orientation or whatever. It’s simply in terms of how we receive our entertainment."
"I want this to be the world has reflected back, and not just something that is on trend right now,” she said. "We never want to be a trend, but a classic.”